Gourmet's 50 Women Game Changers in Food: # 41, Elizabeth Andoh

A native New Yorker, Elizabeth Andou was born to a family of doctors and attended the University of 
Michigan. She was studying anthropology when her adviser at U of M suggested she apply for a postgraduate fellowship in Japan.
 "At the time in the 1960s conducting academic study on food culture was pretty iffy. It wasn't very common. So one thing sort of led to another. The culinary experience didn't happen first. I got to Japan and was beyond intrigued. I was really drawn in by what I was experiencing and a great deal of it had to do with food. If I had to think of a set of experiences that pushed me over the edge it was being in the Andoh household." 

Andoh’s first Japanese home was in Kanonji, a coastal township on the island of Shikoku, where 
water was pulled from a well and there was no such thing as an electric rice cooker. That summer many years ago she had her first lesson in making udon noodles under the guidance of Kiyoko Andoh, the diminutive but energetic woman who, several years later, would become her mother-in-law. Many of Elizabeth Andoh's techniques are traditional, authentic and some would say, old-fashioned. But it was how she learned.

Elizabeth's formal culinary training was taken at the Yanagihara School of Traditional Japanese 
Cuisine, in Tokyo. She says now : " I'm beyond embarrassment over the fact that I grew up in a household in NYC that used instant rice." 

She married into the Andoh family, a traditional Japanese family, and she had to quickly learn to 
adapt. She was so successful that she has devoted her life to helping other expats – and by extension, Japanese food enthusiasts – the world over.

In 1972, she began her own culinary arts program, A Taste of Culture, which combines spicy tidbits 
of food lore with practical tips and skill-building lessons on how to prepare Japanese food. Her programs are conducted in Japan (Tokyo & Osaka) and offer a unique opportunity for foreign residents and visitors from overseas to explore and enjoy Japan's culture through its food. 
Andoh is widely regarded as the leading English-language expert on washoku cooking. This is a 
focus on the harmony of food. Meals prepared washoku-style focus on five basic principles which culminate in a beautifully presented, delicious plate. Harmony in color, harmony in palate, harmony in cooking method, harmony in the senses and harmony in the outlook. The Washoku Cookbook is available HERE.
Andoh also has a washoku webpage

She has recently written a book on  Kansha cooking, available at Amazon. This is now her default 
cooking mode. The notion of Kansha was simultaneous to that of Washoku, but she was afraid that the world was not ready for Kansha, so Washoku came first. 
Kansha is not based on location and ingredients. It is more an approach, a mindset. Kansha is about celebrating abundance and being happy for what you have. Vegetable peels can be turned into stock. Nothing goes to waste in the Kansha kitchen. "The philosophy of kanshaw is based on three guidelines. One has to do with color, one with flavor and one with the transformation of ingredients. The colors are green, red, yellow, black and white. Every meal includes them. For example, things that are yellow are usually rich in vitamin C and carotene; green contains vitamin A and iron. The color principle is the one people catch onto the quickest."
For more informatiion, she has a Kanshaw webpage. 

Andoh publishes an electronic newsletter about 6 times a year. Recipes can be downloaded and 
printed out, making it easy for subscribers to take into the kitchen when they cook. A Taste of Culture's newsletters are free-of-charge, though permission-based. To subscribe, fill out the form on the home page of  Taste of Culture. 

Elizabeth has now lived in Japan for 40 years and is very much at home there. She is regarded as a 
culinary expert, speaking at cultural and food industry symposiums and events, writing papers and conducting research about all aspects of Japanese food. She covered Japan for Gourmet Magazine and has written for the New York Times Travel section. A list of Andoh's cookbooks is HERE.

One thing Andoh has learned along the way is that traditional dishes often disappear during periods 
of upheaval — like right now. It has been over one year since the triple crisis — the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident — pummeled Japan. Andoh decided to help by raising money doing what she does best: publishing a cookbook. Her book, Kibo, Brimming with Hope, has been released in digital form only, with half the proceeds going to the recovery of Tohoku.


To feature Elizabeth, I decided against a vegetarian dish. She herself is not a vegetarian, but it certainly comprises a big part of her cooking. Instead, I found a ginger chicken recipe I thought some guests I was having might enjoy. It's a simple dish, the chicken unbelievably melt-in-your-mouth tender inside with a lovely crisp outside. Marinating it all day was the key to great flavor. The lemon squeezed on top was all it needed. We loved it.

Gingery Fried Chicken
From At Home with Japanese Cooking by Elizabeth Andoh


1/4 c  Soy sauce                         
1/4 c  Sake                              
1 1/2 to 2 tsp grated fresh ginger      
1  clove garlic, smashed with flat side of knife          
1 1/2 pound boneless chicken, cut into 1 inch squares
Vegetable oil for frying             
1/3 cup all purpose flour 
1/3 cup cornstarch 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon Sansho (Japanese fragrant pepper) or freshly ground black pepper  
 Lemon wedges for serving          


Combine soy sauce and sake in shallow bowl, then stir in ginger and add garlic. Add chicken and toss to coat.  Let marinate at room temperature 20 minutes or in refrigerator up to 8 hours. (20 minutes is not nearly long enough.)
Mix flour, cornstarch, salt, and pepper in second shallow bowl. Coat chicken, one piece at at time, with flour mixture and shake off excess flour.  Place 24 pieces on plate and let stand 5 minutes.
Heat 2 inches of oil in heavy pan or deep fryer to 350 degrees. Fry chicken, 4-5 pieces at a time, in oil for less than a minute. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Reduce heat of oil to 325 degrees.  Fry chicken again, 6-7 pieces at a time, 3-4 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges.

Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.


  1. I've never heard of Eluzabeth Andou before, but her recipe is wonderful! That gingery fried chicken looks delicious.



  2. I love this dish Barbara, with its clean fresh flavours. Pass me the chopsticks please.

  3. These are my favorite posts!

  4. Some readers are having comment problems so I'm testing to see if I can comment.

  5. Barbara this looks fabulous, my family would devour these in seconds.

  6. Ok! Any kind of fried chicken. This looks perfect. Thanks!

  7. I never heard from this amazing woman before so thanks for introducing me to her. Her tasty recipe sounds so good & tempting to me! a must make, Barbara!
    I just gave YOU an AWARD !!!!!! Yeah! Come on over @ my latest blog post & check out why!! Yeah!

  8. This looks like something my sons would go crazy about!

  9. What beautiful golden nuggets! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Barbara, this really sounds wonderful. Your recipe and the biographical information you put together for your readers are both terrific.I hope you have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

  11. I really enjoyed reading about Elizabeth and how she began her career. I had to laugh about the instant rice! Oh yes, that would have been embarrassing to admit to : )
    The ginger chicken sounds wonderful.
    I hope you have something fun planned for your weekend. I think I had better stay home and get something done, but that could be fun too.
    sending hugs...

  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. She's also new to me, so I enjoyed your post, Barbara. The chicken looks delicious!

  14. I definitely need to make these…they look absolutely delicious. Such a very nice tribute to Elizabeth…great post!

  15. Oishiiiiii! YUM! How funny. I just made these last week. Well, not THESE, exactly, but close. I shall have to try her version as well!



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